Why We Are Here

Nearly 2,000 Easter Sundays have come and gone since the first one, but even after all that time Jesus’ words on how we should live still do not seem to have registered with us.

Everything Jesus taught us about how to live is pretty much summed up in his reply to the Pharisee in Matt 22:35-40 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

It’s rather sad that even in a world of almost instant global communication, there are still people in the world who have never heard of Jesus Christ or these two simple yet profound commandments that together are pretty much ‘the meaning of life’ -- we are here to love and serve God our Father, and as His children we need to be nice to one another.

But there are atheists amongst us who have a problem with the First Commandment and radical Islamic extremists in the world who have a problem with the Second Commandment. There are also too many people in the world who seem to have a problem with both commandments. And in a world that more and more praises secularism and moral relativism, even in counties where Christianity is the predominant religion, many Christians are struggling, trying to keep these commandments on a day-to-day basis.

Catholic theologian George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation, just recently recalled an old joke about that so highly esteemed bastion of intellectualism, Harvard:  

“Harvard University’s crest, it seems, used to read Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae [Truth for Christ and the Church]. Christ and the Church were jettisoned over a hundred years ago; the crest now reads, simply, Veritas. The joke was that the crest’s next iteration would be Veritas? -- thus honoring the post-modern canon that there is no “the truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”

And this, it seems, is where we are at today. Everyone has his or her own idea of what ‘truth’ is. Even all the different denominations of Christianity that have come into being since the Reformation cannot agree on what ‘truth’ is.

This is probably because we are so much smarter today than the early Fathers of the Church. Heck, we have television and smart phones and computers and satellites and robots, and we’ve sent men to the moon, and we can cure diseases, transplant organs, and even change a person’s sex… well, not really but we can at least make a man look like a woman and vice versa. So who’s to say that the early Fathers and Doctors of the Church all those many years ago weren’t just wrong about a lot of things?

Science has shown us the wonders of technology and pretty soon we’ll have self-driving cars and robots with artificial intelligence that will be doing most of the work for us. We’ll all be free to pursue lives of leisure. The world will be a wonderful place then. Or maybe not.

Chances are that in the future the atheists will still be criticizing people who believe in God. And the LGBT crowd will probably still be demanding that every Christian religion change its beliefs to accommodate their belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are perfectly normal. And there may still be radical Islamic extremists who want to kill anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and nuts like Kim Jong-un who want everyone to bow to them.

In the future, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will probably still be making the rounds of neighborhoods trying to convince people that the Bible translation done by Nathan Homer Knorr’s secret group of translators is really the true Bible, and that it proves their religion is the only true religion. And there will probably still be some Protestants who call the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Anti-Christ, and some Protestants and Catholics alike who still call Jews Christ killers. And there will probably also still be some white people who don’t like people who are not white, and some black people who don’t trust anyone who is not black.

Yet even with all these pesky problems today, that don’t look to be going away anytime soon, far too many amongst us think that it really is possible to create heaven on earth. If we can just put the right political system in place and put the right people in charge and make the more and better laws and regulate everything and figure out how to make the economy work right and use technology correctly and make sure everyone has health coverage we can have Utopia here on Earth!

But there will never be Utopia on Earth, because as smart as we may be there will always be too many individuals in the world who think nothing of hurting others or manipulating others, or amassing wealth or seeking to attain power in a misguided effort to make things better for themselves or have a more comfortable life here on earth.

As smart as we are we may never get along, even though Jesus Christ told us how to over 2,000 years ago. And then He died for us so that those who ‘get it’ will get their reward when they die, in heaven, which is not of this world. 

Nearly 2,000 Easter Sundays have come and gone since the first one, but even after all that time Jesus’ words on how we should live still do not seem to have registered with us.

Everything Jesus taught us about how to live is pretty much summed up in his reply to the Pharisee in Matt 22:35-40 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

It’s rather sad that even in a world of almost instant global communication, there are still people in the world who have never heard of Jesus Christ or these two simple yet profound commandments that together are pretty much ‘the meaning of life’ -- we are here to love and serve God our Father, and as His children we need to be nice to one another.

But there are atheists amongst us who have a problem with the First Commandment and radical Islamic extremists in the world who have a problem with the Second Commandment. There are also too many people in the world who seem to have a problem with both commandments. And in a world that more and more praises secularism and moral relativism, even in counties where Christianity is the predominant religion, many Christians are struggling, trying to keep these commandments on a day-to-day basis.

Catholic theologian George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation, just recently recalled an old joke about that so highly esteemed bastion of intellectualism, Harvard:  

“Harvard University’s crest, it seems, used to read Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae [Truth for Christ and the Church]. Christ and the Church were jettisoned over a hundred years ago; the crest now reads, simply, Veritas. The joke was that the crest’s next iteration would be Veritas? -- thus honoring the post-modern canon that there is no “the truth,” only “your truth” and “my truth.”

And this, it seems, is where we are at today. Everyone has his or her own idea of what ‘truth’ is. Even all the different denominations of Christianity that have come into being since the Reformation cannot agree on what ‘truth’ is.

This is probably because we are so much smarter today than the early Fathers of the Church. Heck, we have television and smart phones and computers and satellites and robots, and we’ve sent men to the moon, and we can cure diseases, transplant organs, and even change a person’s sex… well, not really but we can at least make a man look like a woman and vice versa. So who’s to say that the early Fathers and Doctors of the Church all those many years ago weren’t just wrong about a lot of things?

Science has shown us the wonders of technology and pretty soon we’ll have self-driving cars and robots with artificial intelligence that will be doing most of the work for us. We’ll all be free to pursue lives of leisure. The world will be a wonderful place then. Or maybe not.

Chances are that in the future the atheists will still be criticizing people who believe in God. And the LGBT crowd will probably still be demanding that every Christian religion change its beliefs to accommodate their belief that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are perfectly normal. And there may still be radical Islamic extremists who want to kill anyone who doesn’t believe as they do, and nuts like Kim Jong-un who want everyone to bow to them.

In the future, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will probably still be making the rounds of neighborhoods trying to convince people that the Bible translation done by Nathan Homer Knorr’s secret group of translators is really the true Bible, and that it proves their religion is the only true religion. And there will probably still be some Protestants who call the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Anti-Christ, and some Protestants and Catholics alike who still call Jews Christ killers. And there will probably also still be some white people who don’t like people who are not white, and some black people who don’t trust anyone who is not black.

Yet even with all these pesky problems today, that don’t look to be going away anytime soon, far too many amongst us think that it really is possible to create heaven on earth. If we can just put the right political system in place and put the right people in charge and make the more and better laws and regulate everything and figure out how to make the economy work right and use technology correctly and make sure everyone has health coverage we can have Utopia here on Earth!

But there will never be Utopia on Earth, because as smart as we may be there will always be too many individuals in the world who think nothing of hurting others or manipulating others, or amassing wealth or seeking to attain power in a misguided effort to make things better for themselves or have a more comfortable life here on earth.

As smart as we are we may never get along, even though Jesus Christ told us how to over 2,000 years ago. And then He died for us so that those who ‘get it’ will get their reward when they die, in heaven, which is not of this world.